Fanned by soaring temperatures and strong winds, this year's fire season has been significantly more destructive than the previous average.

A helicopter flies above a fire at Le Capannine beach in Catania, Sicily, Italy, July 30, 2021, in this photo obtained from social media on July 31, 2021.
A helicopter flies above a fire at Le Capannine beach in Catania, Sicily, Italy, July 30, 2021, in this photo obtained from social media on July 31, 2021. (Reuters)

Thousands of people are evacuating from their homes and tourists are leaving their hotels as wildfires wreak havoc in Greece, Italy, and Spain.

Fanned by soaring temperatures and strong winds, with experts saying that climate change increases both the frequency and intensity of such blazes, this year's fire season has been significantly more destructive than the previous average, EU data shows.

A major blaze broke out early Saturday near Patras in the western Greece.

Five villages have been evacuated and eight people were hospitalised with burns and respiratory problems in the region, which remains on alert.

Around 20 homes have been burnt down, according to a provisional figure from the fire brigade.

The mayor of nearby village Aigialeias, Dimitris Kalogeropoulos, called it "an immense catastrophe".

Flames consumed around 30 houses, barns, and stables in the villages of Ziria, Kamares, Achaias, and Labiri.

"We slept outside overnight, terrified that we would not have a house when we woke up," a Labiri resident told Greek TV station Skai.

The seaside resort of Loggos was also evacuated, with nearly 100 residents and tourists sent to the nearby city of Aigio.

According to EU data, 13,500 hectares had been burnt in Greece, compared with an average of 7,500 at this point in the year from 2008-20.

READ MORE: 'Out of control' Greek fire threatens Athens suburbs

'Crazy summer' in Italy

Italy was again hit by fires after more than 20,000 hectares of forest, olive groves and crops were destroyed by a blaze in Sardinia last weekend.

More than 800 flare-ups were recorded this weekend, mainly in the south, Italy's fire brigade said.

"In the last 24 hours, firefighters have carried out more than 800 interventions: 250 in Sicily, 130 in Puglia and Calabria, 90 in Lazio and 70 in Campania," the brigade tweeted.

It added that firefighters were still battling blazes in the Sicilian cities of Catania, Palermo, and Syracuse.

While the south of Italy has been burning, the north has suffered wild storms.

"The cost of the damage caused throughout the northern Italian countryside by the violent storms and hail during this crazy summer amounts to tens of millions of euros," the Coldiretti agricultural organisation said.

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Blazes in Spain

In Spain, dozens of firefighters backed by water-dropping aircraft were battling a wildfire that broke out Saturday afternoon near the San Juan reservoir, about 70 kilometres east of Madrid.

Firefighters said Sunday they had managed to stabilise the blaze overnight but local authorities urged people to stay away from the reservoir, a popular bathing spot for residents of the Spanish capital.

Source: AFP